Sunday, August 8, 2010

Maine: August 7th - 8th, 2010

Hotel: The Hampton Inn and Suites Rockland
Dining: J.R. Maxwell and Co., Big Fish Cafe, Moody's Diner, Five Islands Lobster Co.
Events: The 63rd Annual Maine Lobster Festival

I really, really like lobster. There are pictures going back almost a decade of me with my father and grandfather standing over a small sink in Wellfleet; our hands protected by rubber globes, dismantling as much as 30 or 35 pounds of lobster to feed my relatives and friends lucky enough to be present.

I first learned about the annual Maine lobster festival about two years ago. I immediately booked a room (you really need to), and in spite of a lot of turbulence and uncertainty in my life, I fixated on that date in August of 2009 as a given.


I've written before about the danger of planning... sadly my trip didn't materialize. This year, I booked my room at the Hampton two weeks in advance and I was set.

I landed in Portland around Noon on Saturday and was given the hugest car I've ever rented by the Hertz there... my carbon footprint was extra large this weekend.

On my way north, I stopped in Bath to grab some lunch. What a great coastal town. I had my first lobster roll at Maxwell's and bought a couple of cookbooks at an antique bookstore... the highlight is from a 1976 cookboook from the isolated Monhegan Island off of Maine:

1 ketle full cold watter
1 envelope instant cocoa

Allow at least 10 minutes for water to boil. Dump package of cocoa into mug, libarally dusting surrounding area. When water is boiling briskly, fill mug to brim and stir for 2 minutes - enjoy!
- Don Cundy

It was prearranged that I would meet my great-aunt Phyllis (who spends summers in New England) for the festival. Phyllis has a Shih Tzu named Tutti (her affection for the breed is clear if you look at the stickers on her car). Phyllis, Tutti and I walked around the crowded festival. Let me be straightforward - the festival is a glorified carnival, and a small one - but it is an excuse to get to see one of the great small towns and regions in the country and is worth the trip for that alone.

Saturday night I was pretty burnt out on lobster and needed a little variety. The whole clams at Big Fish were perfect. Not the best atmosphere - but delicious.

Sunday morning I headed out early and weaved up and down some of the insane amount of peninsulas that define Maine's coastline. It was early, up and down route 1 there were blueberry stands. I have baked over 30,000 blueberry muffins in my life (at least 10 dozen a day for three summer months over three years...). I stopped at Moody's to grab a muffin... it is not legitimate - but OK. A real muffin shouldn't be spongy, nor should the cake part be bluish (a sign of using frozen berries).

My goal was to wind up at Five Islands in Georgetown. It was worth it... I ate three lobster rolls during my 30 hours... the pictures will tell you my impressions. Five Islands is a remote, beautiful series of shacks and picnic tables arranged on the Georgetown coast with a pristine view. I had a Moxie with my lobster roll. My aunt was telling me on Saturday about how my great-grandfather, after marrying my great-grandmother, set off for a honeymoon in Niagara Falls.

Making it as far as Springfield, MA they had suffered two flat tires (in those days tires had tubes that had to be extracted, patched, replaced, re inflated)... anyhow at a service station along the way he requested a Moxie and they had to dig a crate up from the back... I'm now interested in Moxie. It tastes like a Coke doctored with a tablespoon of Robitussin.

It's kind of funny when you walk alone around a pier that you know you're (at least) the fifth generation of your lineage who has done the same. That's over a century of history.

Legacy is an incredible variety of experience. As fantastic and absurd as life can be... reaching back To Moxie or to plaid pants; or gardens, pear trees, Buicks, glasses, grapes and trains and ice... to curses, care and cigarettes. To candies (sticky in a jar) and maybe sweaters and (the best) bow ties... lectures and loss.

A sip of Moxie can be an attempt just to meet; (or better) to connect. At least to recognize, and perhaps ultimately, to redeem (if not resurrect).

This post's tip: Portland, ME has some of the country's seediest dive bars... be careful (I'm credible on this)

Things I learned this weekend:
  1. These are really cool, sturdy and environmentally responsible - if you have a front porch you should have one
  2. Big dogs don't like Shih Tzus
  3. Shih Tzus like discarded food at carnivals and have to thus be carried by responsible grand-nephews around said grounds :) - it was worth it

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really fun, and yummy, weekend. Lobster rolls are the best way to eat lobster!